“It makes plenty of sense,” she nodded her understanding. “It must be difficult to try to communicate with those you feel don’t understand or hold much less insight to the world we’re living in, or you’re living in. You understand you’ve seen much more than any person, let alone any person your age, Harry. And on that same token, it makes it hard to understand yourself.” Dr. Harcourt thought for a moment, her hands stopping mid-gesture. “Do you find yourself comparing your own situation and intelligence to those of others?”
“It seems, Harry, that you see yourself in a different light than others.” Her eyes held understanding and her voice was calm and gentle. “When I spoke to Hermione, she expressed such a kindness and heart. She would never say you were a hassle or a burden, am I right? What would she say about you? How would she describe you? I don’t believe for a moment she’d ever walk away. It sounds like she cares so much about being supportive of you.” She nodded, craning her head forward when he quieted. “I know you didn’t mean that, and I don’t take it personally. I know I seem odd, myself, seeing patients and calling myself a doctor. It puts people ill at ease, they aren’t quite sure what to make of me. It wouldn’t be the first time, Harry. I understand your apprehension.”
She had seen the emotional barriers before, patients who had locked themselves away in stone towers, pushing away the realities of the world. She listened closely as Harry spoke, nodding every so often as she tried to understand further. “You seem so harsh with yourself, Harry. So willing to judge every thought and feeling.” Dr. Harcourt was merely observing, wanting to know if he had even noticed himself doing it.
He spoke so sadly, so quickly, as if he was laying it all out before his mind told him to stop. Rosalind allowed him to do so, wanting Harry to do whatever he needed to proceed, to step further toward understanding and accepting. His plea for her help sobered her and she nodded passionately. “Harry, I will do everything in my power to be helpful to you. But it isn’t up to me to save you or to save anyone, to fix everything, that power comes from within you.”
Harry couldn’t help but mutter some sort of disagreement to any mention of her so called understanding. It was so easy. So easy to deny that she grasped anything that he had said. It was much simpler to just say, “You don’t understand, you never will.” than to say, “Yeah, you get me.” It was much less of a promise to confide in a person when you keep them at bay of full comprehension. Or rather to keep yourself reassured that you never really confided in anyone. Either way it was a lie. He again went through the process of addressing her new inquiries.
“I do indeed, Doctor. I live by comparison.” Harry stated in a manner too nonchalant to flow with the conversation. “I can’t help it. I see myself in a degraded manner because of it, but I can’t stop. The judgement, the antagonizations. Even when they seldom come from someone else, they inevitably come from me twice as harsh.”
“I cherish Hermione as one of my wonderfully close companions, don’t get me wrong. I’d say she would call me something along the lines of stubborn, frustrating, and confusing.” Smirk. Frown. “You never know when someone will walk away. I choose not to blind myself with possibly misconstrued affection that will attempt to convince me otherwise. She’s great, we’re friends, she does way more than expected, and I appreciate it but… I won’t hold her to be there all the time. She’ll snap, one day. S’not like I want her to, but that doesn’t mean I can’t anticipate it.” He gazed around the room, not fixing his sight on anything in particular. “I’m not paranoid.” He constituted matter-of-factly.
“I am harsh with myself and I do judge every thought and feeling. It’s not like I want to.” His bottom lip quivered. “I can’t do anything without it passing through my mind with a self-made comment alongside it. Anything. I relay it all over and over in my head. ‘You’re an idiot.’ I’d say. ‘You’re pathetic.’ You don’t know how terrible I feel right now, throughout the duration of today; every day. Every word that has come out of my mouth has had an unspoken one nearby. It’s horrific.” He gave a shudder and a repressed cry.
“I appreciate your will to aid me, I do. I really wish that you could just wave a wand and fix me. I wish it were that effortless, that simple. What if I don’t have that power? What happens then?” He answered his own question with a sob. “I’m a lost cause, Doctor. There’s really no point in saying much more.”
Harry hugged her, and Luna hugged him even tighter. She’d never felt so happy, or so relieved- or so terrified. As certain as she was of her words, that she wanted to end it, she’d never been more scared of what she was about to do.
It was so simple to say what she wanted to do, but doing it was a whole other thing. She was grateful for Harry’s help, but that could only go so far. She didn’t trust herself to be of any help along the way. She let out a slow, shaky breath as she looked up at Harry. “I want to,” she repeated. “I- that’s definite, I definitely want to stop. But,” she looked down, suddenly overcome with fear again, “I’m scared. What if I can’t do it? What if I slip up?”
Luna was grateful that Harry offered to help, but she wasn’t sure that he understood. It sounded so simple when they talked about it, like all she had to do was stop. But it wasn’t that easy when, in their world, temptation was everywhere. Even if it wasn’t, she knew that she wouldn’t be able to deal with the withdrawal symptoms. She’d heard of such horror stories of people who’d tried to quit- and not many of them were successful. In some ways, her addiction was beyond their control.
Luna stepped away from him, turning her face away, worried she would start crying again. “ I just- I can’t let you down like that. I don’t want to be a burden on you anymore, Harry, it’s not fair. You’ve been through so much, you can’t just look after me forever.”
They were both quiet for a while, which Luna was glad for. She needed a bit of quiet to think about what they’d both said. Even after all the doubts she’d voiced, she still wanted to stop. But there were still so many things to talk about. And she wasn’t even sure where she would begin. Would she just get rid of all her drugs and go from there? Would she go to a specialist? Or one of those ridiculous support groups or something? It all seemed like such a mundane process for a problem so big.
Luna turned back around to look at Harry. “The most I can promise you is that I’ll try. I know it’s not much, but that’s all the only thing that we can both definitely count on.” Luna’s expression was half-sad, half-hopeful, wondering if, after all this, he was still offering his help.
Luna’s words dripped with a certain anguish, an indescribable pain that made Harry want to rip at his chest. He couldn’t get past the fact that it all seemed different. That seemed like the running theme for the night. It was a change, an exhibition of variety. He listened to her phrases uttered, her tears up to the brim behind her stone-grey eyes and he himself began holding back waterworks. She said it all like she wasn’t good enough, like she was rubbish. It pushed Harry over an edge he had yet to ever experience.
“Hey,” He said in an assertive tone used by brothers and fathers alike. “Stop it, now. You’re not a burden to me, you never will be.” His mind moved to a self-figuring kind of ponderance. He thought about himself, how he always felt like this. Inadequate, impossible. He longed for someone to give him the assurance he so often supplied Luna with. But this wasn’t the time nor place. His voice began to break and waver with the promise of tears, he continued. “I may have been through a lot, but so have you.” He closed the gap between them once more. “I can look after you for eternity and then some, Luna. I understand that this’ll be hard. I get that it’ll take it’s toll on you and me both. Most importantly, I believe in you. I trust that you will try your hardest. For me, for your parents.” He winced at his mention at her elders, his intent wasn’t guilt. It was more for a stern, ‘tough love’ kind of thing. “But for whomever, if you believe that you’ve tried your hardest, that’s all that matters. Self-importance.”
He scoffed internally at that. He was so hypocritical. He could spend days telling Luna that she was worth it, that she mattered, that she should love herself no matter what. There was no question that he really did mean it. His words weren’t empty, but he had spent sixteen years trying to convince himself of the same to no avail. He wondered if she knew how conflicted he was internally. Surely, it couldn’t have passed her. There were times where Harry was certain that she knew him better than he himself. But he always pushed the persistent self antagonizations out of the way for her. It was the least he could do.
It’s important to acknowledge that she owed him nothing, and neither did he, her. They acted in a mutualistic mindset, a sort of ‘you scratch my back I scratch yours’ but replace the instance with Luna’s drugs and Harry’s head. This was the stuff of fairy tales. Beautiful friendships that were as rock solid as the people involved. A fairy tale. A really, really, fucked up fairy tale.
“I love you, Luna Lovegood. I assure you. I’m here for you. Moral support, physical support. Whatever you need.” He smiled as convincingly as possible through the onslaught of emotions fighting to supersede his strong facade. “I’m here.”
Dr. Harcourt watched a genuine smile make its way across the boy’s face as he began to calm again. His tone had changed again when he spoke, and he sounded almost giddy in his own way. “Of course, Harry,” she nodded, her own hands folded in her lap as well. “I’m not just one of the others. You choose when you want to talk to me, not the other way around. I am available to you when you need me.”
She listened as Harry spoke about Hermione. Something changed within the young man again, he became taken with a new kind of guilt. It bordered on co-dependency in its own way and her brow furrowed in curiosity as Harry continued to speak. “That is the sign of a true friend, Harry. Someone who will help you find what is best for you even during the darkest of times. But why do you feel you don’t deserve her?” Dr. Harcourt brought one hand up to her chin, looking at Harry with a calmed expression of understanding. “It’s often hard to accept help from those closest to us.”
“None of my patients are just cases or nameless lab rats,” she leaned forward slightly, to show Harry how important this was to her. “Each of my patients is a human being, with their own thoughts and feelings, and each person is different. And if you feel I’m treating you in a less than human way, please tell me, Harry. It’s important to me that everyone feels safe in my office.”
She listened attentively to Harry as he spoke again and she paused for a moment to think, “I believe we never accept the help others are so willing to give, until we are ready to admit we need it.” She nodded slowly in reassurance of herself. “But what do you feel you need to apologize for? Every feeling you have is valid and I would hope you didn’t feel guilt about expressing them or having them.”
Dr. Harcourt sat back in her chair again, the gears in her own mind turning slowly with each word the young man spoke.
“It’s difficult for me to accept assistance from anyone, really.” Harry countered at her statement. “I’ve fallen helplessly into a reality where, as narcissistic-less as possibly said, I find everyone my inferior… but when looking at myself, I absolutely hate the image depicted.” A pause. “That didn’t really make sense, did it?” He added with a faint nudge of his facial muscles. He then moved to acknowledge the rest of the words she had emitted.
“Why does anyone feel the need to do anything?” Harry questioned ambiguously. “I tend to apologize more frequently than the average person. But if any consolation, I’m not an average person. I feel the need to do so because I understand that I can be a handful. I’m a nuisance. I’m a burden. I’m a hassle. Everyone who comes into contact with me realizes that I’m not what the signed up for. They come to the revelation…” Harry began to quiet. “And then they leave.” The words escaped him in an almost whisper. “Earlier today, w-when I told you what I did, to hurt me and all that,” Harry looked up apologetically. “Please don’t think that I was insinuating that you would, or that it’s in your nature to do so. I-I was merely, anticipating it. Still am…” The session began to take it’s toll on him. The tears, the anger, everything. Harry began to feel woozy, fatigued. He grasped the arm of the sofa he was seated upon reflexively and continued.
“I get it.” No he didn’t. “You think this is fine, all of this. You’re making the assumption, though probably rightfully so,” He was rambling now. “That this is me putting up the oh so cliched walls of protection, that this is me, simply helping myself.” Exhale. “Is it really helping myself when I can’t so much as grasp the faintest understanding of me as a person? When I can’t even withhold a normal relationship with anyone, romantic or platonic, because I’m so analytical, because I’m so difficult?” Inhale, exhale. “People tend to put up these walls for a sense of protection, they erect the barriers and are finally able to breathe. All they’ve done for me is asphyxiated me further, choking me with my own antagonizations.” The poetic nature of his words shifted the mood to airy. Lofty with edges.
“Another question, or series of them, Doctor, if you please. What am I going to do with myself when I come to the realization that I don’t even want me anymore? What am I to do with myself if and when I realize that you don’t want to help me, that I’m to much for you, for a professional? You said you weren’t going to walk away so long as I didn’t as well, are you alluding to the point that no one will be there to run after me? Sometimes, or rather, all the time, I don’t feel the strength to stand my ground. I almost always want to go away, to escape, from everything.” His mind felt like a perpetual generator, his forehead overheated with the force of it.
“It’s not okay!” He said, more to himself than anything. “It’s not! None of this!”
Another glance, this time in a more insidious manner. And with it two more words after the onslaught of hundreds.
Dr. Harcourt did her best to mask her fascination with Harry. He was unpredictable, yes, not to mention unstable, but there was something lying just beneath all of this. In a way he seemed as if he wanted to use whatever maniacal behavior he could to push anyone away, to push himself further into insanity for the sake of being alone.”Then muse all you wish, Mr. Potter. You needn’t trust me if you feel it would be unnecessary.”
He seems to think, Rosalind thought, that anyone would be scared off or frightened by his behavior. He wants to scare everyone away, to isolate, to think no one cares.
She watched the deterioration of what little bearings he had originally possessed, the cold, strong facade crumbling quickly as he grappled with himself. She briefly wondered if she would, in fact, need to call in extra medical assistance. Harry’s irregularities were stunning and his shortness of breath was frightening. She wondered for a moment if his panic attacks ever brought on seizures, or if this was more than a panic attack.
His laughter momentarily stunned the doctor, and she froze, wondering just how to proceed. His words echoed, even once the eerie silence had settled in her office. “Harry,” she spoke softly, cautiously. “I’m not here to hurt you. I don’t believe you’re as far from sanity as you wish me to think. I won’t walk away if you won’t.” her expression softened again.
Dr. Harcourt studied the teen, knowing this was no safe haven for the boy. Some sort of maternal instinct within made her want to reach out, to let him know he wasn’t alone. Professionally, she knew to keep her distance, to remind him of those around him without becoming one of them.
“Harry?” she stayed in her chair, looking up at him curiously. She thought maybe it best to try something new, to get him to talk about something that brought him some sort of joy. “You seem to have a wonderful friend in Miss Granger.”
I’m not here to hurt you. I don’t believe you’re as far from sanity as you wish me to think. I won’t walk away if you won’t.
This made Harry genuinely smile for the first time today. He may not be willing to trust her just yet, but he was on the road to doing so. “Thank you, Doctor Harcourt. I truly appreciate that.” He delivered the words differently than any previous, they were accompanied with a sort of masked confidence that made his sentence appear brighter. He sat his hands in his lap and his head down at them, grinning absentmindedly. She said his name and he perked up like a puppy being asked to play fetch.
The mention of Hermione hit Harry strangely. “I do. I really do.” The words had a contemplative tone to them. “I don’t deserve her, really. She does so much, tries so hard to help me. I reply by coming off as a stubborn git that won’t try. I mean, look at this,” Harry gestured around the room. “She set this up. She called you, took the initiative I couldn’t. And all I’ve done is yell at you for trying to help me.” He let is hands cover his face as he muttered “I’m so sorry.”He looked up at her and continued. “I understand it’s your job. I know you probably sit here day after day and just listen to the sob stories of person after person. Back to what I said before, I’m more than a specimen. I want to be considered more than just another case of yours, okay?” He bit his lip at how snappy he sounded saying that.
“There are so many people who wanted to help me…” Harry trailed off in a recollective voice. “Everyone’s said, ‘oh well, do something about it, do something, do something, do something. Stop feeling so sad, stop doing this, stop being so mad’ and I want to tear something apart.” He let out a choked exhale. “I’m sorry I’m not happy, or have the motivation to change that. It’s pretty fucking hard to do something when you just ugh.” He wiped his face on his hands and carried on. “And they just expect me to snap out of it and do something about how I feel and it’s not like I can flip and switch and snap out of it and I’m tired of being expected to be like that.” Tears made another appearance in his dialogue, his voice was broken and raspy, he wiped them away with the sleeve of his trenchcoat and moved on. “God, I’m pathetic.” Harry added with a halfhearted chuckle.
“I’m sorry.” Harry said again, and for what he didn’t know.
Luna could sleep. She could sleep for eight hours or so, wake up the next morning and then leave without another word, as she always did. But she was lying there, wide awake, with no intention of sleeping. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d been in this situation, the number of times she’d said that it would never happen again, the number of times she’d let him down, but every time it had been meaningless and they both knew it. But it felt different tonight. She was tired of it and she wanted to stop, she wanted to end this meaningless cycle that she always ended up in. It wasn’t fair on Harry. She wanted him to live his life without having to take care of her constantly, not when he had so many other things to worry about.
She heard a soft sound against the door and realised that Harry hadn’t gone downstairs. She felt another sharp stab of realisation at the pain that she put Harry through that he felt he couldn’t even leave her for a night. It had to end. She sat up, ignoring the slight head rush she got, and crossed the room to the door. She tapped the door lightly with her fingernail. “Harry?” she said quietly. “I can’t sleep right now. I want to talk to you. I- I really want to stop doing- what I do.” Was she so weak that she couldn’t even put her addiction into words? She closed her eyes and sighed, trying to arrange her thoughts into intelligible words.
But it felt impossible. She had a theory that what she or anybody knew, or thought they knew, about her own addiction was just the surface, and below that was something much more. She’d never been in a state of really desperately needing a hit, but perhaps that was because she always had something with her, be it pills or acid or coke. What would happen if one day, she didn’t have anything? How would she react then? Perhaps the only way to find out what was beneath the surface of her addiction was to see how she reacted to having nothing.
She hesitantly knocked on the door again. It was strange; it was as if Luna was asking for permission to come in, even though she was the one in the room and Harry was outside in the hallway. That is, if he was still there. She hoped that he was. They couldn’t wait until the morning to talk; surely he knew that? If they did wait, it wouldn’t happen. It would just be another avoided conversation as she hugged Harry and left the flat quietly. No, it had to be now. “Harry, please talk to me,” she said, her voice stronger though only slightly above a whisper. “I need help.” And that was it. She’d finally summarised all of her thoughts and feelings about her addiction into those three short words.
Harry had just about dozed off when he heard the tap-tap-tap against the door. He moved to stand and stopped about halfway up when he caught wind of Luna’s voice. He sort of just sat there and listened, he didn’t want to deter her from what she really wanted to say by interjecting. Her last sentence caught him by the heartstrings. Harry tried to mentally shrug it off somewhat, like how he did when she made her empty promises. But then he remembered the walk here. The difference in the situation, the indistinguishable change in ambiance.
He stood up and moved for the door knob. “Luna?” Harry began cautiously “I-I’m coming in okay?” He opened the door and stepped inside. An awkward silence permeated the room for all of two seconds until Harry cracked a grin. He couldn’t contain himself, really. For his assurance and her own, Harry wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into a squeezing hug. He let out a chuckle. “If it’s what you want, I’m here for you, understand?” He squeezed her tighter. “I’m always here. Help is wanted, help is given.” He punctuated his statement with a kiss atop her head and a scrunch of her shoulders.
His mind was racing. She wanted help, she admitted to having a problem and she wants to fix it. I mean, everyone always said that the first step to solving a problem is realizing you have one. That was the easy part in this instance. The steps falling next would be what succeeds or fails in putting the pieces together. There was so much promise in those three words. Promises and Luna never really saw eye to eye.
Harry just stared at Luna, for quite a while, analyzing her. He brushed a stray hair from her face and spoke again. “Are you sure?” His voice wavered a bit and the mood returned to uneasy. “Do you- Will you- I mean-” He took a breath and started again. “Will you follow through? This,” Harry gestured between the two of them “Is a two way street. My help won’t help you if you don’t help me. You need to accept what I’ll try and do. I love you, you know that. I’ll do my best to do help. The only question is, will you? Are you willing to help me help yourself?”